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TORONTO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday that data showing Canada lost 129,000 jobs in January underscores the need for economic stimulus plans promised in the federal budget, and he urged Parliament to pass the bill quickly.
“This is the first step ... if it’s necessary to do more, we’ll do more,” he said of C$40 billion ($33 billion) in stimulus measures planned over two years.
Speaking to reporters after a speech in Toronto, Flaherty said he was pushing to speed up the legislative process to get the budget bill passed as quickly as possible.
Canada suffered record monthly job losses in January, with the unemployment rate climbing to 7.2 percent from 6.6 percent in December.
The losses single-handedly wiped out the net employment gains of 2008 and were bigger than any seen in recent economic troughs, raising fears that this recession will be deeper and more protracted than policy-makers have predicted.
Flaherty acknowledged there would be no quick fix for the economy, and projected more job losses and gloomy economic data.
“We should not (have) rose-colored glasses on here. There is a synchronized global recession. The situation is deteriorating. The American economy continues to worsen,” he said.
“The importance here is to cushion the impact and to prepare to come out of recession.”
Asked if he expected the government to have to add to its stimulus package, he said he would not know until the current plan is implemented.
In prepared remarks for a law and business school audience, Flaherty said he would urge fellow finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations not to raise trade barriers as they try to stimulate their economies.
“History has taught us that countries must resist such thinking, particularly during global downturns,” he said.
Canada has criticized the “Buy American” provision in the massive U.S. stimulus package, now moving through the Senate, which would have required all public works projects to use only U.S.-made iron, steel and manufactured goods.
The U.S. has since softened its stance on the measure, and says it will be applied in a manner consistent with Washington’s international trade agreements.
$1=$1.22 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson
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